Our Family

Our Family

Friday, July 1, 2016

4 H Survival Skills Workshop

This summer, our county 4 H has several activities related to the theme "Back to Our Roots."  The first activity was the Tour of Historic Washington that we attended last week.  This week we had a Survival Skills Workshop.  Next week is an old fashioned cloverbud picnic.  The rest of July has embroidery and sewing workshops and a pickle canning workshop in August.  We will not be participating in the sewing or canning workshops because the girls are too young (you have to be 9) for the sewing and embroidery workshops and the boys have no interest.  And the canning workshop will not work out for us because the children really, really do not like the smell of vinegar or pickles.


The Survival Skills Workshop was very interesting.  He talked to the kids about the kind of things that you should take with you if you are going out hiking, camping, or hunting.  He talked about learning to use a compass, searching for water source, food and shelter if you are lost.  He also talked about boiling your water to make sure you kill anything in it that could make you ill.  He taught them different ways to make fire, like using steel wool and a battery, or reflecting the lens of your flashlight.

Then we headed outside where he showed the children a type of plant (I can't remember the name of it!) that can help repel mosquitoes.

And how to use a bag to get water from a plant.

He showed them that Queen Ann's Lace with a purple center has edible parts, along with the uses for cattails (food and fire) and how to find crawdads to eat.

We saw a fish trap that allows the fish to get in but not get out.


Then we headed back inside and made a walking stick.



And some fire starters.



We have never done anything on that topic before and really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: NotebookingPages.com

*this post contains affiliate links

Have you ever stumbled upon a resource for your homeschool that you didn't know you needed but once you had a chance to try it can't imagine not having it? When NotebookingPages.com appeared on our vendor list, I wasn't that excited about it.  I had heard of it many years ago when I first started homeschooling but never really used it and had no idea their selection of pages was so large.  Now that I have had an opportunity to try out Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership, I can't imagine not having it in our homeschool! 
Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership
Debra Reed, homeschool mama of 10 children started looking for a better way to homeschool her children after 6 years of frustration.  She wanted them to delight in their studies and not forget what they had learned immediately after she finished teaching it.  Notebooking was the solution to her problem and out of her desire to help other homeschool moms find joy and freedom in their homeschool she developed NotebookingPages.com.

What is notebooking anyway?  Notebooking is a child's homeschool journal.  It usually has 2 different components: visual and written.  Rather then having your child fill in the blanks on a test or worksheet to show what they know, they choose what kind of information to include.  They can include a picture of their choice and write the facts that they found interesting on a subject.  They can include maps, quotes, photos, timelines, or any thing else they found interesting. There are so many different ways to notebook!  You can use notebooking with or without a curriculum.  You can choose to make a separate notebook for different topics being covered, or make a notebook of everything your child has learned throughout the year.  Notebooking can be used with a wide variety of ages from preschool all the way to high school.

NotebookingPages.com has done all the work to make your notebooking journey easy.  On their site you will find 1000's of pages ready to be printed out.  You will find pages in topics such as:

Nature Study
Science
Famous Men and Women
Geography
Music Study
Art Study
Ancient World
Medieval World
Renaissance
Modern Times
Timeline
Character Study
Bible
Copywork Pages
Basic Lined Pages

Plus many more!

You can sign up for a free sampler  with 100's of pages for you to print out, tutorials to help you start notebooking, and homeschooling/notebooking tips.

The Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership gives you access to all of the notebooking pages that are currently on the site plus all future products and updates.  You can choose to make a one time payment of $97 or a four month payment plan with the first month costing $10 and the next three months $29. 

One thing I have learned about myself over the last several years of homeschooling is that I am TERRIBLE with subscription things.  I never feel like we end up using them enough to justify them.  And when it gets close to the time they are running out I feel like I rush, rush, rush to try and get my money's worth.  I also have in the last 5 years had two computers crash on me causing me to loose everything I had saved on my computer that I had purchased online.  So sad!  I am talking about all of this because two of the biggest pluses for the Lifetime Membership for me came before I even had a chance to look through the products.  First, it is a Lifetime Membership.  I don't have to feel like I didn't get my money's worth or that we are rushing to use it before our time is up because it is never up. Second, if the computer crashes I do not have to worry because I can just log into my account and everything is there for me!

I also love that there is so much to choose from!! I listed some of the different topics above but there are many different choices under each main topic. There are also many different styles for each page. There are pages that have a full page for writing, pages that have a full page for drawing, pages that have a picture to color plus boxes for drawing and lines for writing.  There are pages with regular writing lines and also pages with the middle dotted line for younger writers.  If you can't find a page with a subject you are looking for you can choose from the large selection of  any study pages or 3D notebooking pages.  There really is something for everyone for any type of study.

I printed out several of the flower pages for my girls ( 5 and 7) because they love flowers and love learning about flowers.  Emmie was happy to just color the flower while Lily likes to color and draw her own.  Lily is working on a Nature Notebook and the flower pages have been a great start for it. 
Emmie's sunflower


Lily's sunflowers

The boys enjoy learning about insects, reptiles, and snakes.  I printed out some pages on a gila monster for them and some blank insect pages that they could draw in and write about whatever insect they wanted to.  We went to a 4 h contest and listened to 4 different talks about insects so they have been making pages for the insects they heard about.




I printed out some of the ABC pages for Emmie to work on writing her letters.  She loves drawing pictures and practicing the letters.
We also printed out the U.S. flag pages to finish up a study we had been working on this year and I made some handwriting pages for the children to practice writing their names in print and cursive.



I have looked through many of the other sections.  The geography pages are amazing. There are so many topics you could cover.  We just finished a 50 state study and I wish we had had these pages then!  I also looked at the artist study pages, famous people pages, different history topics, human anatomy pages, dinosaurs, birds, and more.  I have spent a lot of time on this site! The drawings on the pages are high quality and I am very impressed with the overall look of the different pages.  

One of the things my boys need to work on is writing.  They are reluctant writers that really need work on basic writing skills.  For the rest of the summer I am going to have them choose a topic and print out a page for them to draw and write facts that they find interesting.  Emmie will continue to work on her ABC's and Lily her Nature Notebook. Next year the curriculum we are using has the children write different Bible verses to help with memorization.  Instead of putting them in a spiral notebook, I am going to have them use the notebooking pages.  We also are going to use them for our geography study, copywork, history and science topics that we cover in our curriculum.  The possibilities are endless.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

*this post contains affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: VeritasBible.com

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
We have been excited to have an opportunity to use and review a one year family subscription to VeritasBible.com from Veritas Press. 
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review



VeritasBible.com is an online program that teaches children the Bible using stories, games, music, and a variety of activities. The family subscription gives up to 5 students access to all of the courses allowing students to work at their own pace.  At this time there are 3 different courses: Genesis to Joshua. Judges to Kings, and The Gospels. Chronicles to Malachi and Job and Acts to Revelation are coming soon. Each of the courses covers 32 Biblical events. 

A free trial is available.  No credit card information is required.  Single student pricing is $9.95 a month or $99 annually and the family plan is $19.95 a month or $199 annually.  

We decided to start our study with Judges to Kings.  I set up an account for my four youngest children (5,7,9,and 10.)   In Judges to Kings students will learn about the early years of the people of Israel, the cycle they followed during the time of the judges, through the kings and the exile to Babylon.  Stories are told through Levi, whose inventions don't turn out the way he plans, and his family plus the animated Vasko the frog and Pallu the badger.  Each lesson has a variety of activities. Tests and quizzes are included.  You must score a passing grade to move on to the next lesson but the scores are not saved in the program. You can go back and redo parts of the lessons if you wish, but you cannot skip forward.  You can stop in the middle of the lesson and pick up the next time where you left off. It takes us around 30 minutes to complete a lesson. 

High speed internet is required to use these courses.  But, I live in the country and have very slow internet.  It is considered high speed for my area but it is barely faster then dial up and runs through my phone line.  I do not expect these types of programs to run as well on my computer as they would for someone who has faster internet.  That being said, we have had very good results using VeritasBible.com.  The  only issue we have is playing the memory song.  I have to pause the video and let it "load" completely before I can play it.  This takes a few minutes but then we can listen to the song.  I mention this because if you have slower internet, you may still be able to use the course. Try out the free trail and see how it works for you.

Setting up the account and adding your students is very easy.  Once that is done, whenever you log in you click on one of the students, then choose which section you want to work in.  Once you click on that you will be taken to a map of where you are in the lesson.


There are a variety of activities in each lesson.  There are videos to watch.


Games to play.


Activities to complete.



The memory song.


And more!

My children have absolutely loved using VeritasBible.com.  Their favorite part is the games (of course!)  They also enjoy watching the videos and the characters that are in them.  They enjoy the different activities in each lesson.  The variety of the activities is really good and there is a ton of review built in to each lesson.   They love the interactive features of the map. They only part they do not love is the song, but it is designed to help you remember the events and every one of my children can repeat the entire thing.  

I like the timeline and mapping questions that are included.  The program is very thorough and does a good job not just explaining what is going on at that time but putting it in historical context.  I though that even the more difficult topics to address (let's face it history isn't always pretty) were hadled really well.

The only questions we struggled with was the dates.  I have not seen the dates for each lesson shown in the lesson until they are asked the questions.  They give it their best guess the first time they are asked so they can see the answer and remember. Veritas Press does offer Bible Flashcards to go with each course being taught and I am guessing that the dates are listed on the flashcards,  We did not receive those for this review, but we have used the history ones and they are beautiful!

Interestingly, using this course with the children came at a great time for me.  I have had to fill in for a Sunday School Teacher who has been ill.  Usually I teach pre-k and k but I was needed in the 1-3rd grade class with no advance notice and a brand new curriculum.  You'll never guess what we were studying.  It was the Judges!  I was well prepared to teach these lessons after watching them with the children.

VeritasBible.com has been great for our summer school!  Members of The Crew also reviewed the Self- Paced Bible Courses.  These are the same courses used in VeritasBible.com subscription except you only have access to one course for a year for one student and the program stores the grades.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Our Week in Review (June 20th-25th)

One of the things that I have been doing over the last several weeks is trying to make final decisions about our curriculum for next year.  Some things I had decided on a long time ago, but there are several things that are undecided and it will be time to start the new school year before we know it.  I need to be realistic about what we can cover in a year and not put too much stress on the children or myself.   Math is one of my biggest concerns.  The curriculum we have used for years did not go so well last year.  Originally I had planned on continuing anyway, but the more I think about it, the more I know something needs to change.  What works for one student does not work for another and even when something works for awhile when it doesn't it is time to try something else.  Change can be hard especially when you are trying not to cause more frustration and confusion. Curriculum choices can be so hard!  When I finally do decide on everything, I will write a series of posts about it.  This year we have a K, 2,4,5,7, and 9th grader.

As part of our summer school this week. I had Nick and Alex take a placement test in math.  Anthony and Christian worked on multiplication facts.  Lily and Emmie did some math exercises with our learning palettes.




Lily, Emmie, and I did an Art Achieve lesson.

We did a lesson on VeritasBible.com and worked more on The Three Little Pigs in Latin.  Anthony and Christian started using a new app called Orphs of the Woodlands from Star Toaster.  It is like an interactive book that has them reading and doing different jobs in a variety of subject areas.  So far they really are enjoying it.


We made pudding pops one day this week.


And playdough another day.



We had to move chickens around too.  Our babies are big enough now that they are crowded in their pen so we put them in the big chicken pen and two of our other chickens in the small pen.  Those white chickens were pretty happy to be running around while we moved the babies.  They enjoyed scratching in the dirt.


We had a 4 h field trip to Historic Washington State Park this week.  Originally it was supposed to be all outside activities but due to extreme heat in the forecast it was switched to mostly indoor activities.  I was so glad!  It also worked out better for me because our family pass would cover the cost.  We toured the weapon's museum, 1836 Courthouse and Schoolhouse, Candle Shop, Print Museum, Blacksmith Shop, Woodlawn House, James Clardy Kitchen, Gift Shop, and 1874 Courthouse.  We also had lunch in Williams' Tavern.  It was the first time we had eaten in the tavern and toured the Woodlawn House and James Clardy Kitchen.


























I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!